Ntisaw Cameroon Water and Sanitation Project (2008 – 2013)


About the Community

Ntisaw is a village community of approximately 1,500 people in rural Cameroon, West Africa. Ntisaw is located in the Ndu subdivision of the Donga-Mantung division of the Northwest Province of Cameroon.  It is located approximately 40km northeast of Kumbo, the second largest city in the Northwest Province and 6km north of Ndu, the largest town and namesake of the subdivision Ntisaw is located in.  The villagers in Ntisaw live in mud brick houses with tin or thatch roofs. There are several streams that originate and run throughout the village and animal grazing lands.  These streams are the source of water for drinking, cooking, and cleaning.  Many villagers often have stomach aches and diarrhea, and water quality testing determined that these streams have fecal contamination.

Project Overview

The purpose of the Ntisaw Village Water Project (NVWP) is to provide clean drinking water to Ntisaw, Cameroon. The Engineers Without Borders University of Illinois chapter began the project in Fall 2008. In the summer of 2011 the water system was constructed and has been operational since. Going forward, the project strives to ensure that the water provided is clean and drinkable, as well as uninterrupted throughout the dry season.

In 1994, Ntisaw started a village water project and made plans to construct two spring boxes located approximately 1700 meters from the village center (2200 meters along the main road). The community collected money from each household, hired a local engineer, and successfully constructed one spring box. After the completion of the first spring box, the engineer then borrowed money to start a new spring box. For reasons unclear, this spring box was never completed.
In September 2007, the Social Welfare Department of the Kumbo Catholic Diocese identified Ntisaw as one of twenty-six potential village water project locations in the countryside around Kumbo. Joshua Knight, an American missionary and environmental engineer, and Reverend Daniel Ache, a Catholic priest, submitted the proposal to the EWB-USA organization through the Diocese of Kumbo on behalf of Ntisaw.

The student chapter of EWB at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign adopted the project in Fall 2008 and traveled to the community for the first Ntisaw Village Water Partnership (NVWP) site assessment in May 2009. Joshua Knight, P.E., served as the professional mentor for this first trip. The EWB-UIUC NVWP team traveled to Ntisaw, Cameroon for a second site assessment trip in late December 2009 through early January 2010. This trip was conducted under the guidance of professional mentor David Wortman, P.E.: a former environmental sanitation US Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic currently working as a consultant for FutureGen 2.0 in Springfield, IL, USA. While in Cameroon for the second site assessment, the EWB-UIUC team transitioned into the project design phase. 

Designs for the system were developed throughout the Spring 2010 semester with guidance from David Wortman, and an overall plan was drafted. In May 2010, the project presented this plan to the TAC board with EWB-USA and continued to develop and refine the design. At the end of the semester, a new mentor joined the project, Dr. Richard Cooke, a drainage expert and professor at the University of Illinois. With his assistance, an experimental field setup was developed to further investigate the possibility of a supplementary drainage system proposed during the second site assessment trip.

Through the fall semester of 2010, the project developed two distinct objectives: completing a primary system design, and developing a rigorous set of experiments and test setups to accurately determine the best course of action for source supplementation. These two components were developed through the semester, approved by TAC in December, and deployed during the January 2011 Implementation trip. A series of 32 monitoring wells were installed to measure the subsurface hydrology, and a pilot system was established to test the feasibility, safety, and potential issues of a supplementary drainage system that was implemented. Additionally, the construction of the approved primary system design began during the trip after the delivery of most major system components. Contracts were developed and signed to properly provide for the success of the construction phase to be continued through the May 2011 Implementation Trip.
The village of Ntisaw constructed 90% of the primary water system under the guidance of the contracted engineer. Prior to the May 2011 trip, the entire pipeline was dug, majority of the pipe was laid and connected, and the four stone storage tanks were built. During the May 2011 trip, the tanks and tap were connected and the entire water distribution system was cleaned and disinfected.  Water quality tests were carried out at major components of the system and the water was found to contain a high level of bacteria. The high level of turbidity and low pH also raised concerns over the treatability of the water and the possible corrosions of tank walls. Also, attempts made to measure the flow rate and water quality of the water from the pilot supplementary drainage system during the May 2011 trip were futile due to pump failure. 

Going forward, the team will continue to gather relevant data to assess the viability of the implementation of a water treatment system and a supplementary drainage system to achieve the goal of distributing clean, protected groundwater to the Ntisaw community.

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